Chow Fun vs Lo Mein: Stir-Fried Noodle Duel

Welcome to the Chow Fun vs Lo Mein showdown. Today, we’ll explore what makes each of these stir-fried noodle dishes special and discover which one will truly make your mouth water.

Are you ready to explore the delicious world of stir-fried noodles? Join us as we put Chow Fun and Lo Mein head-to-head in a tasty duel that will leave you craving more.

What is Chow Fun?

Chow Fun is a delightful Cantonese dish that takes your taste buds on an adventure. It’s made with wide, flat rice noodles stir-fried with protein and vegetables, offering a taste of Southern China that many love. This dish blends flavors of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and spices to create a taste you’ll want more of.

Cooked in a very hot wok, Chow Fun gains a smoky flavor as the noodles absorb all the savory sauces, resulting in a chewy and enjoyable texture.

Close-up of a plate of chow fun topped with beef slices and green onions, garnished with sesame seeds.

What is Lo Mein?

Lo Mein is a tasty Chinese dish made of stir-fried noodles, veggies, and meat. Known for being filling and versatile, this dish is beloved everywhere because it’s so flavorful and fun to eat. If you love fast food Chinese food, most likely the noodle you had was lo mein. It is typically characterized by a savory sauce and is rounder in appearance, than chow fun (which is more flat).

To make things even more confushing – lo mein is sometimes confused with chow mein – a noodle that is very similar in appearance but typically less of the savory sauce. Chow mein is what you would find at Panda Express restaurants when you order noodle. Read more about the difference between chow mein and lo mein in our other in depth article.

A staple in Chinese-American cuisine, it features colorful vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli, and allows for a choice of chicken, beef, or shrimp as protein.

Lo Mein’s flavor varies regionally—some versions are lightly sauced while others are spicier, offering a range of options to suit any palate.

Stir-fried lo mein noodles with mixed vegetables and strips of beef in a black wok, steaming hot.

Chow Fun vs Lo Mein: Key Differences

Let’s explore how Chow Fun and Lo Mein differ in terms of texture, ingredients, and flavors, and see which one might be more appealing to you.

Texture and Mouthfeel

Chow Fun features wide, flat rice noodles, while Lo Mein uses wheat flour egg noodles. If you’re curious about the differences between these noodle types, check out our article on Rice Noodle vs Egg Noodle.

The choice of noodles gives each dish a distinct texture. Chow Fun’s noodles are wide and chewy, with a slightly slippery texture that makes them enjoyable to eat. In contrast, Lo Mein’s noodles are thinner, tender, and smooth, offering a different kind of pleasure with each bite.


Chow Fun and Lo Mein use similar proteins and vegetables, tailored to your preferences. Chow Fun typically features beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu, along with vegetables such as bean sprouts, bok choy, scallions, Chinese broccoli, and bell peppers.

Lo Mein may include beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, complemented by vegetables like carrots and mushrooms. You’ll also find crisp bell peppers, crunchy bean sprouts, and tender broccoli in this dish.

While there are common ingredients like soy sauce and garlic in both dishes, their seasonings set them apart. Chow Fun is known for its rich flavor, enhanced by oyster sauce and dark soy sauce, giving it a deeper taste. In contrast, Lo Mein tends to be slightly sweeter, with lighter sauces and sesame oil.


The flavor profile of Chow Fun is largely defined by its sauce and the smoky essence imparted by the high heat of the wok. The typical sauce for Chow Fun includes a blend of light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and occasionally a hint of fish sauce (on Amazon) or Chinkiang vinegar, which adds a subtle tanginess. Ingredients like garlic and scallions also contribute to the dish’s aromatic qualities.

A small amount of sugar might be added to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce. The use of dark soy sauce not only enriches the flavor but also gives the noodles their characteristic color. This combination creates a rich, savory, and slightly smoky flavor that clings to the wide, flat rice noodles, making each bite deeply satisfying.

Plate of lo mein on the left and chow fun on the right, placed side by side on a table.

Meanwhile, Lo Mein typically features a lighter and sometimes sweeter sauce, using ingredients such as light soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar to create a pleasing balance of flavors. The noodles used in Lo Mein absorb the sauce well, providing a rich coating that enhances the texture and taste of the noodles.

The inclusion of vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, and cabbage contributes to the overall umami and slightly sweet profile of the dish. Lo Mein sauces may also include a bit of oyster sauce or a sprinkle of white pepper to round out the flavors, making it savory with a hint of sweetness.


Chow Fun and Lo Mein are two great noodle dishes. Chow Fun features wide, flat rice noodles that are chewy and smoky, perfectly complementing the savory sauce. Lo Mein, however, uses egg noodles that excel at absorbing the sauce, offering a delightful mix of flavors.

Choosing between these two dishes depends on your taste preferences. If you enjoy chewy noodles with a smoky flavor, Chow Fun is an excellent choice. If you prefer your noodles well-blended with sauce and ingredients, opt for Lo Mein.

We encourage you to try both to discover which one you prefer. Whichever you choose, you’re in for a treat that will surely satisfy your taste buds. Enjoy your meal!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which dish is healthier, Chow Fun or Lo Mein?

Depending on how they are made and what’s in them, both dishes can be made healthier or less healthy. That said, Lo Mein usually has more vegetables than Chow Fun, which usually has more oil and sodium.

Can Chow Fun or Lo Mein be made vegetarian?

Yes, both can be made vegetarian by substituting meat with tofu or vegetables and using vegetarian-friendly sauces.

Is Chow Fun or Lo Mein better for takeout?

Both dishes are great for takeout, though Lo Mein’s egg noodles may maintain their texture slightly better over time.